Chairperson Beverly Budz called the meeting to order at 7 p.m.

Statement of Compliance

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231 PL 1975, adequate notice of this regular meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 13, 2015 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Salute to the Flag

Roll Call

Beverly Budz P
Richard Carson P
Dale Disney P
Doreen Edwards P
Angi Metler P
Edward Nitch P
Alyssa Portaro P
Diane Wexler P

Also Present

Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary

Chairwoman Beverly Budz welcomed Ed Nitch to the environmental commission. He was appointed to a three-year term that will expire on December 31, 2018.

1. Resolutions

A. Resolution 16-01: Schedule of Meetings for 2016

January 12, 2016
February 9, 2016
March 8, 2016
April 12, 2016
May 10, 2016
June 14, 2016
July 12, 2016
August 9, 2016
September 13, 2016
October 11, 2016
November 15, 2016
December 13, 2016
January 10, 2017

The motion to adopt the schedule of meetings for 2016 was made by Diane Wexler.
Seconded by Richard Carson

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Angi Metler, Edward Nitch, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

B. Resolution 16-02: Designation of Official Newspapers for 2016

The New Jersey Herald and the Sunday Herald shall be the official newspapers for 2016.

The motion to approve the official newspapers for 2016 was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Doreen Edwards

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Angi Metler, Edward Nitch, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

2. Open Meeting to the Public

Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Diane Wexler
All were in favor.

3. Close Meeting to the Public

Seeing no one come forward, Beverly Budz moved to close the meeting to the public.
Dale Disney seconded the motion.
All were in favor.

4. Land Use Board Liaison Report

Diane Wexler reported that the land use board approved the expansion of Vernon Valley Reserve’s satellite facility on Edsall Drive. She also reported that tomorrow night at the land use board meeting, Theta Associates would seek an extension of time for its senior housing complex on Theta Drive.

5. Old Business

A. Gypsy Moth Aerial Spraying

Chairwoman Beverly Budz stated several residents had approached the environmental commission at a meeting at the end of last summer reporting the devastating conditions in Highland Lakes from the gypsy moth infestation and urged the environmental commission to request aerial spraying this year. Ms. Budz reported that Vernon Township is on the state Department of Agriculture’s list for spraying after conducting a ground study that revealed extensive gypsy moth egg masses per acre. Municipalities that are listed have the option to have the state do the aerial spray but the municipalities must pay the costs. Commissioner Dale Disney suggested that the state might reimburse the towns for some of the cost. Beverly Budz will call Administrative Assistant Irene Mills in the mayor’s office in the morning to get additional information and to state the environmental commission’s concern about this matter.

B. Tennessee Gas Pipeline

Beverly Budz commented on the letter the commission sent to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (TGP). In a response from the company they stated there are five different locations along the pipeline around Wawayanda State Park where there is “metal loss,” which means there is some kind of erosion. She spoke with the company engineer, who told her they were taking the pipeline back out of the wetlands and sleeting it, exposing the line, bringing the machines in. She said the commission was not able to get up to the locations to see it because of inclement weather when the site visit was scheduled.

Ms. Budz said a resident living near the pipeline questioned whether the metal loss is occurring from the pipe itself or if the acidic soils in the township are causing the pipe to corrode. She also questioned whether the chemicals inside the pipe were causing it to corrode. All of these variants are a concern for the environment, she said. Is it a Vernon issue, or is it a gas line issue? If it is happening inside the pipe, it could conceivably be happening across 57 miles of the pipeline throughout New Jersey, she said. The commissioners suggested writing another letter to the company, asking more specific questions and requesting answers. Commissioner Richard Carson said he might still have some documents available from the company from when he was on the township council. If he has them he will bring them to the next meeting of the commission.

Commissioner Doreen Edwards questioned what the measurements of the pipe are and if they are compliant with the specifications that were approved for the project.

Diane Wexler stated she and Beverly Budz have the project application packets that were approved and all of the specifications are in the packet.

Doreen Edwards suggested they act like they do not know what the specifics are supposed to be and nonchalantly ask the question to see their response.

Beverly Budz said one of the subcontractors working on the project she spoke with said in some areas the steel used was not as strong. Dale Disney asked if there is a way to know what failed in each of the sections of the pipeline.

Diane Wexler said the next question to ask TGP is if they will x-ray all of the lines to make sure they are in good condition. She said x-raying is not in their construction plan. Beverly Budz suggested they write a letter to the company and ask them to come to an environmental commission meeting to answer the many questions the commission has. She will draft a letter and bring it to the next meeting for the commission’s approval.

Ms. Budz asked all the commissioners to forward to the recording secretary within 72 hours any questions or concerns to include in the letter and the recording secretary will forward them to the chairwoman to compose the letter. The commission will approve the letter at its next meeting. Diane Wexler suggested they ask the company to bring their inspection reports to the meeting.

Beverly Budz moved to send another letter to the company, letting them know the commission knows there is a problem and to ask a representative to come to a meeting to answer their questions and explain the situation. Richard Carson seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Angi Metler, Edward Nitch, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

6. New Business

A. Discussion of Open Space and Farmland Preservation

Pursuant to NJSA 40:56A-2 and NJSA 40: 56A-3, the commission discussed its statutory responsibility regarding open space, creating an index of open space parcels the township owns, and making recommendations for open space acquisition.

Beverly Budz read the state statutes on the record concerning responsibilities of statutory environmental commissions. Each of the commissioners was given the statutes by the recording secretary. Beverly Budz discussed the open space parcels and farmland preservation parcels already acquired by the township and the state. The commission discussed some of the open space parcels already purchased by the township. They questioned the purpose of some of the acquisitions that are on steely sloped, heavily wooded properties with invasive species on them, and are land locked and not accessible by the public.

Ms. Budz stated the public cannot use these properties and the public does not get advantage of the tracts as they are unusable. She noted the properties purchased cost much more than the entire 87-acre Camp Sussex tract the commission recommended for purchase last year, which could have been used for numerous township activities. She noted that one of the parcels the town purchased was 3.3 acres for $330,000. She said more than one million dollars of taxpayer open space funds were spent on these properties that the public cannot use.

Ms. Budz also noted that former mayor Sally Rinker wanted the township to buy her 19 acres, 14 acres wetlands and 5 acres uplands, on Maple Grange Road for $250,000. The town was considering the purchased and had its appraised value at $150,000.

She said if all the taxpayers pay for the open space parcels the town purchases, all of the taxpayers should be able to benefit from the lands she said, not just a select few. Open space parcels should allow the public to walk, bicycle, picnic, jog, hike, and a number of other activities. She said the Camp Sussex parcel would have offered all of these benefits to the entire community. The properties the town purchased with the taxpayer open space funds do not allow any access or benefits to the community, she said.

Going forward, as the commission reviews open space, they will try to find properties to purchase that suits everyone in the township that anyone can enjoy, whether young, elderly, handicapped, active, or not.

Doreen Edwards asked how the procedure works. Does the environmental commission recommend parcels for purchase to the township governing body? Beverly Budz responded yes. Ms. Budz said it is the responsibility of the commission to seek out properties that have value to the township for everyone. Doreen Edwards said if another entity comes forward and recommends purchase of a property to the township, she would like the commission to be apprised of it. The commissioners were reminded it is the responsibility of the environmental commission to make recommendations for the purchase of open space.

Beverly Budz suggested the commission invite former chairman Craig Williams to gain understanding from his expertise as a former ten-year chairman of the Vernon Environmental Commission and to ask him about the purchase of open space parcels from 2000 to 2010. The commission directed the recording secretary to forward an invitation to Mr. Williams for the next meeting.

Richard Carson moved to invite Craig Williams to their next meeting.
Beverly Budz seconded the motion.

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Angi Metler, Edward Nitch, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

B. Appointment of Recording Secretary for the Environmental Commission

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:56A-5, the commission hired a recording secretary.

Alyssa Portaro made the motion to hire Jessica Paladini as recording secretary.
Diane Wexler seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Angi Metler, Edward Nitch, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

7. Applications Under Review

A. LU#11-15-12: Vernon Valley Reserve Satellite Campus Expansion, Edsall Drive

The commission reviewed the application and did not have any concerns or recommendations for the land use board.

B. LU#11-15-13: Minor Subdivision Block 100-07, Lot 16

The commission reviewed the application and did not have any concerns or recommendations for the land use board.

C. National Winter Activity Center Revised Plan—Breakneck Road

The commission discussed the massive tree clearing that the resort has done, which was not part of the original land use board approval for the project. Beverly Budz and Edward Nitch went to the ski resort and took photographs of the tree clearing. Diane Wexler also stated that the resort has to replant trees along the abandoned entrance where they clear-cut. The entrance was changed because of safety concerns concerning the prior one. The members of the commission are not happy this tree clearing has occurred, but did not take any action pending further investigation of the matter. Chairwoman Beverly Budz will attend the land use board meeting the following night to discuss the commission’s concerns with the applicant and with the land use board.

8. Approval of Minutes

December 8, 2015 Regular Meeting Minutes

Motion to approve the minutes was made by Beverly Budz.
Dale Disney seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Dale Disney, Angi Metler, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

9. Commissioner Comments

Doreen Edwards apologized for not attending the last meeting, but she was able to view on cable television the presentation VTMUA Chairman Vincent Zinno gave to the township council regarding the study to expand the wastewater management plan and the sewer service area. She said the very thorough environmental commission minutes from last month also brought her up to speed on the presentation to the commission.

Richard Carson also apologized for missing his first meeting on the commission but said he was ill last month. He asked the commission members to help him be brought up to speed on the commission’s actions over the past several years. The recording secretary also said she could make the recordings of past meetings available to him.

Diane Wexler asked the recording secretary to distribute the 2016 roster to all the commissioners.

Alyssa Portaro missed the last meeting because she was at an event studying invasive species. Everyone complimented her for her enthusiasm for the environment. She said she would also like to research shelters for animals on some of the open space properties the township owns. Beverly Budz suggested the commission do site visits of the properties.

Dale Disney circulated to the members some brochures on training course ANJEC is providing. Beverly Budz said the commission will become members again this year of ANJEC, and the fees would come from their budget.

Angi Metler said she is also trying to get up to speed on the commission. She will do some independent research and would also research alternatives for gypsy moth spraying.

Chairwoman Beverly Budz wished everyone a Happy New Year. She also stated that the bear hunt was extended this year. The first part of it was hard enough, but going through the second part was horrific, she said. She was very upset to see a number of small youthful bears coming in with the hunters. She took photographs of it, she said. She would like to discuss bear baiting at the next meeting and what the commission could do to prevent it. She is very troubled by the hunters baiting the bears. We live in bear country in Vernon, she said, and people should be more mindful of it. Angi Metler said she was very troubled to find baiting foods such as Nutella, chocolate bars, anise, and other foods spread out a quarter mile into the woods behind her house to bait the bears during the hunting season.

Diane Wexler welcomed all the new members and said it is wonderful to have a full roster on the commission. She would also like to know how she could obtain a sign the environmental commission created on the state idling law.

Edward Nitch thanked the commission for recommending him for appointment, and he also thanked Mayor Marotta. He to wants to get up to speed and looks forward to working with everyone.

Beverly Budz also said she has the township NRI on CD for every commissioner and will distribute it to everyone at the next meeting.


Doreen Edwards moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 p.m. Diane Wexler seconded the motion. All were in favor.

The next meeting of the environmental commission is on February 9, 2016.

Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Recording Secretary
Adopted February 9, 2016